Early essay by Willa Cather

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Early essay by Willa Cather - of ' CONCERNING TilflS.. GARLYLE SOME OF HIS...
of ' CONCERNING TilflS.. GARLYLE SOME OF HIS PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. A Man Who Did Not Belong fo If is Time and Could Not Feel in Harmony With His Fellows. HeWasaGlaat Among; Lilliputians, andi Vet Was Obliged to Flea to the Wlldernet to Escape ThelF Petty Persecutions A Blaster Intellect. Perhaps no man who has .ever stood before tiie public as an English author, was so thoroughly un-English aa Thomas Carlyle. His life, his habits, and his literature were most decidedly German The mansion on Piccadilly, the sedate tea parties, the literary clubs, and even the ooveted tomb in old Westminster, so dear to the heart of every Englishman, were things of no moment to Carlyle. lie was a recluse, not that he had any aversion for men, but that he loved his books and loved Nature better. He saw little of society, yet, though he never bent his knee to it, he never trampled upon its laws. He was merely indifferent to it, for he was one of the few men who can live utterly independent of it, while those wno condemn it most severely, cling to it as the only thing which can give thein zest or ambition enough to live. . He respected social laws, for they are the outgrowth of man's honest sentiments of what is best to be done in his conduct toward his fellows. He revered any production of the hand ot of the mind of man, be it some old rune cut upon stone in an English forest, or a social code which allotted to his higher, stronger nature and passions the same sphere of action as to every coal heaver on the streets of London. He said but little of the wrongs which be himself suffered. He bore no sense of enmity toward any one. He only pitied, with all the strength of his great heart, pitied everything that lived. Carlyle posed but poorly as a political economist; his love and sympathy for humanity were boundless, and he understood great minds and earnest souls as no other man has. In this lay his power aa a biographer and as a historian. lie could understand how the Marsellaise might set men's hearts on fire; the storming of the Bastile, aud the revolt of the women were pictures after his own heart, in itwhich hot blood of tbe old sea kings still raged. The passion and tbe sincerity of the French revolution made it sacred to bim. But of the liberals of his own country, men who demanded rights, but never shed one drop of honest blood, iu defense of them; whose revolts were mere riots, instigated neither by principle, nor by patriotism, but by sullen anger ; whose aspirations rose from an ale glass, and found their tomb therein of these he understood nothing. They were dark enigmas to him; he was "Above them all, alone withjtha stars." Moreover, Carlyle was not a practical man. He knew, for instance, that education is the right of every man, and that it is the most potent factor in the suppression of crime. But when the English liberals rushed upon him, asking whether education should be compulsory; at what age this compulsory education should begin; at whose expense; and whether the schools should be sectarian, he was utterly aghast. He was only an awkward fellow, born, a peasant, and a peasant always, with a great genius, and a soul sincere as truth itself. He could handle the most profound problem in metaphysics delicately enough, but he was dull and bungling when he tried to grasp political theories. Perhaps the gist of the matter was that he was always looking for a cause, or for its effect in everything, both of which are somewhat difficult to find in modern English politics. He was always dreaming too, one half his heart was always in Valhalla. The best traits of his character and tho strongest powers of his mind belonged to other times and to other peoples. He went far out into one of the most desolate spots of Scotland and made his home there. There among the wild heaths, and black marshes, and grim, dark forests, which have remained unchanged since the time of the Picts and the Saxons, he did his best work. He drew his strength from those wild landscapes; he breathed into himself the fury of the winds; the strength of the storm went into his blood. Carlyle was the greatest painter in England. Ilia pictures were not wild sketches of imagination, but were photographs from nature. Like Scott, he lived much in tbe open air, and might be seen evening after evening striding the heath, or climbing the roeky hills, his tall, angular figure, braced to the wind, standing out sharply against the stormy, red sunset. It is well known that Carlyle'a married life was not strictly a happ7 one, and that Mrs. Carlyle sometimes complained bitterly of his indifference to her. The wife of an artist, if he continues to be au '"artist, must always be a seconaary consideration with him; she should realize that from the outset. Art of every kind is au exacting master, more so even than Jehovah. He says only, "Thou shait have no other Gods before Me." Art. science, and letters cry, "Thou shalt have no other Oods at all." They accept only human sacrifices. There are few women who love an abstract ideal well enough to see this; fewer still who, like Mary Shelley, will honor it, and submit to such treatment without jealousy. It is very likely that Carlyle used violent language, when he was interrupted in one of the soliloquies of Tenfelsdrockh to be informel that his coffee was ready. Very likely Mrs. Carlyle was much hurt and grieved: she certainly made excellent coffee. She would have liked it better if he had lived in London, and put ou a whita tie and a dress coat, and gone to the receptions. She hated this solitude, which was her husband's inspiration, and, indeed, ii must have been very unplaasant for her. The lack of harmony in their conjugal relations was due to the faults of neither, but was merely a very unfortunate circumstance. Carlyle'a was one of the most intensely reverent natures of which there is any knowledge. He saw the divine in everything. His Svery act was a form of worship. Yet it was fortunate that he did not enter the ministry. -He would have been well enough in the pulpit, though be would have preached .", on Scandinavian mythology, and on the Hindoo, as well on the Hebrew faith; but he could never have smiled benignly at the deaconess' ti a parties, nor have praised the ucacou's stock. ! nor -have done the thousand other little things - requisite to success. The j minister of to-day should be as shrewd a wire-puller as the politician. He would have gone to the kirk with tbe very bet intentions, and, being suddenly struck with some idea while ascending his pul-! pit stairs, would have made au eloquent and powerful address upon tbe doctrines of Buddha, at wbicu hia audience would either have gone to sleep, or have !een shocked, as they happened to feel, listless, or irritable. He was too passionately, too intensely religious to confine himself to any one creed. - He could never see why Saint Peter's and the Coliseum should always frown at each other, as they stand there in Rome, with the graves of two faiths between; one dying. one long since dead: he loved them both so well. Even the scars of the barbarian swords upon-the polished marble, he half revered; they were honest arms that struck those blows. - . , This reverential serious neGt disposition was characteristic of Tuui in literature, as m everything else. He never strove to please a pamered public. His genius was not the tool of his ambition, but his religion, his god. Nothing has bo degraded modern literature as the desperate efforts of modern writers to captivate the public, tlner watching the variation of public taste, as a speco!' r watches the markets. When Orpu. sings popular ballads upon tbe street corners, he is a street singer, nothing more. The gates of hell do not open at his music any more, nor do the damned forget their pain in its melody. Carlyle went out alone into the solitude and wrestled with his great ideas, rinding them difficult to express in words, so great, so ungainly were they. He little cared whether his books were popular, whether they were even read, lie wrote only that which was in him, and which must be written. In vain his publishers groaned over his "terrible earnestness;" he would not laugh for them. ' He was always down iu the chambers of the Fates, at the roots of Ygdrasil, the tree of life, which the Noras water day and night, one with honey, and twd with gull; and it was terrible to him that it was so. Milton says that tbe lyric poet may drink wine and live generously, but the epio poet, who sings of the descent of the gods to men, must drink water out of a wooden bowL lie is the last poet who has thought so, and he is the last poet who has given us an epic. Carlyle'a was one of the most unhappy temperaments. He never saw things a3 others did; his wild fancy and bad digestion distorted everything. In writing he did not willfully exaggerate, he por. trayed things only as they seemed to him, Like the old anchorites of the Thebiad-he kept upon his knees witbinhis narrow cell until the outside world looked supernatural to him. The littln difficulties of his life were to him actual demons and powers of darkness sent to torment him. His dyspepsia was an actual Tophet. How far his ill health may have influenced his writings is not known, but certainly not so far as some critcs claim, who assert that "Sartor Resartus" is but the result of a year of miserable health, the morbid fancies of a sick man. If so, it is a new and pleasing feature of bad gastronomy. He was proud to the extreme, but his love was predominant even over his pride. He, himself, would suffer any privation rather than sacrifice an ideal; but for his brothers sake lie wrote for money. It seemed to bim like selling his own soul. He wrote article after article for reviews, and cut up his great thoughts to fit the pageiijof a magazine. No wonder he hated it: it was like hacking bis own flesh, bit by bit. to feed those he loved. Throughout his entire life ha was tormented by interference. Ha was not the kind of a man to be popular, for he was unwise enough to stand aloof from all sects and parties. None defended him. No one creed, nor the doctrines of any one sect were broad enough to hold hint. Like the lone survivor of sjme extinct species, the last of the mammoths, , tortured and harassed beyond all endurance by tbe smaller, thoucii perhaps more perfectly organized oifspring of the world's maturer years, this great Titan, son of her passionate youth, a youth of volcanoes, and earthquakes.and great unsystematized forces, rushed off into the desert to suffer alone. He died as he lived. Proudly refusing a tomb in Westminster, as did one other great English writer, he was buried out on the wild Scotch heath, where the cold winds of the North ?ea sing the chants of Ossian among the Druid pines. He lies there on that wild heath, the only thing in the British Isles with which he ever seemed to harmonize. He dreamed always in life; great, wild, maddening dreams: perhaps he sleeps quietly now, perhaps he wakes. W. C. NEBRASKA RAIL HO A3 LAW. A Compilation of All Statutes and Con Stltutlonal Provisions Mow la Force 1c Nebraska Itelat-iog to litallroads. A work of unusual interest and value to tbe bar of Nebraska has just been issued. It is entitled "Nebraska Railroad Law." The author 13 Hon. Leavitt Burn-ham of Omaha, formerly connected with the land department of the Union Pacifio Railway, and known generally over tha west aa a close thinker and a deep student of the law, especially in that branch relating to railroad problems. This book has come into being in response to a well defined demand for just such a publication. Our railroad legislation has been enacted under varying circumstances through a long series - of years, and is of course found in a very fr35mintary condition aa one searches through the statutes. Litigation involving the railways has increased enormously in late ye'ars. At the same time a general awakening in publio interest ir these corporations has taken place, an' at present every wide-awake citizei wants to know the legal status of the Companies and their exact relations to the public. State and county officers must bave an accurate knowledge of their duties in connection with the railroads. Railroad men find it just as necessary to have this information. In fact these corporations are so intimately connected with tho commercial, industrial, political, and legal life of the etat that a work of this kind is needed by all classes of citizens. AH of the constitutional and statutory provisions on the' subject of railroads now in force are grouped under appropriate titles, with supreme oourt citations explaining and construing any passages that may I of doubtful or conflicting meaning. Bo systematic- has been the preparation of this book that any subject can be turned to m an instant, and all the law on that point will be athand without a long and vexatious search. The publication has been endorsed by Judges Cobb, MaxweU and Nerval, and will be accepted at once by tbe members of the legal profession a- an authority on tbe brach of law which ii covers. The price in paper covers is 73 cents; full sheep binding, $1.50. Address all orders to the publishers. .-. State Jovtrnal Co., . Liucoln, Neb. Someone says: "A farmer is one who works the the farm and an agriculturist is one who works the farmer." Every mistake a man makes gives some other man a weapon. :Hl,T:SPfilVfi.Piirnnfc? the About board The President of on report committee. Springs, the President Board In list of diseases cure will give some have addition bring and brush towels. and want it along, here above but of better and irrepressible price suits arrive up will. money. to $30 from $2.50 to 50 cents; 15 cents. by the It the disease. bathe do not one. to $10 a while of your Mr. e regular, keep . .. I yji itO cured in few words out of its hot the mountain, diseases patients benefited. many churches, sidewalks, Crossings windows. saw in both of kicking cn.., for house a pretty patronized There and about in charge all canes, must all here. to get and President for some and and dollar. You bathe There many which long that is at 3 ia left dinner. committee all bring eatable day last and is here. on to get their are manner go. go? and like and a little. yo'i rest all and then to you rest, and suffering that table? before commence is in and come of be much feel better. Mr. an institution, is are and soon find all of

Clipped from
  1. The Nebraska State Journal,
  2. 01 Mar 1891, Sun,
  3. Page 14

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